There is a definite writing style being used in Genesis.
It is... "the putting in of something that is out-of-place."
In fact, we are actually told that Joseph does this...
and are told that it is done on purpose...
and that it was done with Jacob's blessing and permission.
The clue is this:
On the one hand, Joseph refers to God as his source of dream interpretations...
40:8 -- "Do not interpretations belong to God?"
41:16 -- "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."
And on the other hand, it is a divining cup that he hides in the luggage of his
beloved full-brother, Benjamin... then sends his servants to arrest him.
44:5 -- "Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he
divineth? ye have done evil in so doing."
Joseph did not use a divining cup.
So why this story of a hidden divining cup?
This story of a "divining cup" is deliberately put "out of place" in Joseph's
story, just as it was put out of place in Benjamin's luggage. The object used to secure the
arrest of Benjamin is a "divining" cup solely to let the reader know to look
for something that is out of place... because Joseph is speaking to us
(divining to us) through it. There are many instances of "things that are out
of place" in the stories of Genesis. These will be explored in other chapters.
However, one example of this:
Joseph speaks of two dreams he had when he was 17.
37:7 -- "For behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf
arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and
made obeisance to my sheaf."
37:9 -- "Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and behold, the sun and the
moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me." then... "his father rebuked him,
and said unto him, 'What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy
mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
His brethren envied him, but his father observed the saying."
Pharaoh also had two dreams... similar to each other.
When Joseph interpreted them for him, he said,
41:25 -- "The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is
about to do"
41:32 -- "And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is
because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass."
It appears to be obvious that both of Joseph's dreams foretell a time when the
brothers... and his father and mother... would show obeisance to him when they
came to Egypt during the long drought. However, rather than an immediate fulfillment,
such as the one with Pharaoh... it would be 22 years for these dreams to be fulfilled.
Also... Joseph's mother Rachel was dead. How could she show obeisance to him when
she was dead?
Because of the coincidence of two recurring dreams for both Joseph and Pharaoh...
because of what this was supposed to mean... we are being compelled to look more
closely at what might only seem to be the obvious fulfillment of prophetic
dreams. We are being compelled to look for something hidden. In Joseph's case...
the two dreams were separate events... not double.
Sheaves are a common source of grain... food... for which people labor in the fields to
obtain. Joseph would save the lives of his brothers with Egypt's grain... and they would
be grateful... and they would be at his mercy (per the dream of the sheaves).
However, the sun, moon, and the eleven stars (referring surely to the planets)
are set in the heavens into perpetuity... different altogether. In fact, we are
told at the very beginning of these scriptures in Genesis:
(perhaps also written by Joseph with Jacob's permission)
"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day
from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth:
and it was so."
"And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light
to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the
heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to
divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and
the morning were the fourth day."
If the dream of the sun, moon, and stars meant what Jacob thought that it
meant... that it foretold that... not only would the brothers show obeisance to Joseph,
but, now... also he and Joseph's mother... then they were all being given high distinction
by being described in such "heavenly" terms. And yet, even with such high distinction,
they would still show obeisance to Joseph.
There is no story in Genesis telling of any special distinction of his brothers. They
did not obtain fame or power in Egypt. In fact, the stories of their lives are mostly
unpleasant... even criminal... and nothing is heard of them after Jacob's death except
a reference to their continuing fear of Joseph's revenge on them for what they had all
And so... what could be the fulfillment of Joseph's second prophetic dream?
It is only when Moses enters the picture that Joseph's brothers finally attain a status
of distinction... in the formation of the nation of Israel. Their names would be
But... how then, would they ever show obeisance to Joseph now?
The answer might well be... that... all the tribes of Israel would be used to preserve the
legacy that once had nearly been lost. And that... Joseph had established the process
by which the Israelites would return to Canaan to fulfill God's promise to Abraham.
For many years, Jacob must have grieved that he would be the end of the legacy
of his ancestors. He had barely freed himself from servitude to Laban. Then he
became horribly aware of the violence of his sons. Then Joseph... his only
suitable inheritor... the son of his love... was taken from him. The passing
along of the legacy would not be an easy thing to manage. He had never named a
replacement inheritor to his beloved Joseph.
47:9 -- Jacob told Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage
are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my
life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my
fathers in the days of their pilgrimage."
Jacob was obviously down-hearted... even after seeing Joseph in such a grand
position in life. But... Jacob had just removed his entire tribe out of Canaan. The legacy
of Abraham was farther away than ever. And yet, years later on his deathbed,
Jacob expresses a sense of joy and hope.
It is the continuation of the legacy that Jacob is referring to in his last blessing
to Joseph. We have clues that Jacob knew what Joseph was going to do to
preserve the legacy. Joseph was going to establish the nation of Israel... and
give them a religion.
45:7-11 -- Joseph told his brothers -- "And God sent me before you to
preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance...
lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty."
48:20 -- (Jacob is speaking to Joseph's sons), "And he blessed them that
day, saying, 'In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim
and Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh."
The following verses are Jacob's last blessing to Joseph...
making him head of the tribe.
"Joseph is a fruitful bough by the well of a spring
--- (an enterprising character within a wealthy estate)
whose branches run over the wall.
--- (an inheritance of his own)
The archers have sorely grieved him,
--- (taken aim against him)
and shot at him, and hated him,
--- (acted out of their hatred)
but his bow abode in strength,
--- (he did not take revenge)
and the arms of his hands were made strong
--- (he knew with surety what he was to do)
by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob;
--- (what God had revealed to him to do)
from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel;
--- (which he related to his leader, the decider, Israel)
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help you;
--- (for imperical advice and approval, which is given)
and by the Almighty, who shall bless you
--- (and for wisdom, which is given)
with the blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lieth under,
--- (absolute freedom to do this thing)
blessings of the breasts and of the womb;"
--- (offspring of Jacob living and to come)
"The blessings of your father have prevailed
above the blessings of my progenitors
unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:
they shall be on the head of Joseph,
and on the crown of the head of him
that was separate from his brethren."
That... "the blessings of Jacob were greater than his forefathers unto the utmost
bound of the everlasting hills" could surely mean that his name would be
remembered forever. After all... such is exactly the case. It is Jacob's
(or Israel's) name that the descendents of Abraham would bear. The name of
Israel would be remembered forever.
Jacob was saying that he knew how the future would be, and he had given permission and
advice to Joseph to do it. When he put on the crown of clan chief, Joseph would ensure the
preservation of the legacy.
Joseph... had already been named inheritor when he was 17. Jacob also named the
future inheritor... Ephraim, Joseph's second-born son. After Jacob died,
Joseph would become clan chief, and he would remain clan chief as long as he lived.
Ephraim was to follow him. This is why Joseph's brothers had a renewed concern
about revenge from Joseph after Jacob died. Joseph was now king and judge of the
Both Jacob and Joseph knew well... what jealousy for the inheritance of a vast estate
and power might cause.
They had both learned in a hard way that it meant living in danger.
They both knew well... that in order for the family legacy to be passed on...
survival was everything.